NOW MERGED WITH


THE WORLD

 Timeline Of Gay and Lesbian Marriage, Partnership or Unions Worldwide

 

Last updated: Saturday September 21, 2011

RECENT UPDATES

2011 (September). In Australia, the Tasmanian State Parliament voted on September 26 in favour of same-sex marriage, the first in the country to do so. State parliaments, however, have no control over marriage laws which are a federal matter, but it sends a message to Canberra.

2011 (September).  Full 'marriage equality' in England and Wales came a stage closer when the British Government announced that early next year they would be undertaking "consultation" prior to introducing legislation.  Prime Minister David Cameron was reported to want same-sex civil marriage in place by the end of the current Parliament in 2015.

2011 (August):  In Scotland, the SNP, which has an overall majority in Parliament, said it would be seeking to introduce same-sex marriage.  There would be public consultation in the coming months, the SNP said. Marriage laws are one of the many aspects that have been 'devolved' by the British Parliament to Scotland.

2011 (July).  Civil Unions for same-sex couples in Rhode Island (USA) was signed into law by Governor Lincoln Chaffe on July 2 after being passed 21-16 by the State Senate earlier in the week

2011 (June).  On June 24 in the United States, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Marriage Equality Act which legalises gay marriage minutes after the Senate voted 33-29 to pass the legislation.  The Bill comes into effect on July 24, 2011.

2011 (June).  In the Principality of Liechtenstein, 68.8 percent of voters approved the law for in introduction of Registered Partnerships in a binding referendum  In March, the Landag (parliament) approved the measure.

2011 (June).  In Illinois (USA), Civil Unions became legal on June 1 when licences were issued.  Civil Unions are available to both same-sex and 'straight' couples. The first ceremonies were on June 2.

2011 (May).  On May 5, the Supreme Court in Brazil ruled 10-0 that same-sex partnerships must be legally recognised.  The decision grants gay couples most of the rights enjoyed by heterosexual partners, including pension benefits, inheritance and, some lawyers say, possibly the right to adopt children.

2011 (April).  In the USA, the Delaware legislature approved Civil Unions for same sex couples who would enjoy all of the rights and benefits of marriage under state law.

2011 (March). In the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein (population 35,000), the Landag (parliament) finally approved legislation for the introduction of Registered Partnerships, similar to the arrangements in Switzerland.  The process started in 2007.  Registered Partnerships should come into effect from September 1, 2011.  But a group is petitioning to have a referendum, and have until mid-April to collect the 1,000 signatures required under the constitution.  The required number of petitioners was reached and the referendum is to be held, probably in June.

2010 (December). Application for Civil Partnerships in Ireland will be able to be made from January 1, the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern TD, announced on December 23.  Couples must give three months notice to the Civil Registrar before having a civil partnership ceremony. So the first ceremonies will be in April (as in the case for civil marriage, at least three months notice is required by law).  However, couples who have a wide range of foreign same-sex civil marriages and same-sex civil partnerships will automatically have their legal marriage/partnership recognised in Ireland from January 3. On April 5 in Dublin, Barry Dignam and Hugh Walsh became the first same-sex couple to have a civil partnership.

 


 

This "timeline" has been compiled by UK Gay News, with invaluable assistance from readers in Australia, Canada and Austria, from many websites.  It reflects all known legislation worldwide, whether "strong" or "weak" that impacts on same-sex couples in a long-term relationship from 1979 to the present time.  It should be noted that there are varying degrees of "equality"

If there are any omissions, inaccuracies or new legislation, please let us know (editorial at ukgaynews.org.uk - remove the spaces and "at" etc). 

Please note that this listing is NOT copyright and can be freely used - credit of source is appreciated.


1979.  The Netherlands introduced the "Unregistered Cohabitation" law which was the framework for the introduction over several years of limited legal rights for same-sex couples in areas such as income tax, social security, rent law, immigration rules and state pensions

1989.  Denmark becomes the first country in the world to legally recognise gay relationships with its Registreret Partnerskab, with most (but not all) rights enjoyed by married couples.  But church ceremonies are not permitted neither is adoption.

1993. Norway  introduces Registrert Partnerskap which is similar to Denmark.

1994.  Sweden introduces Registrerat Partnerskap - based on the Danish "model".

1996.  Iceland introduces Staðfest Samvist, again similar to Denmark.

1996.  Greenland, a self-governing part of Denmark, introduces  Registrert Partnerskap.

1996.  Hungary becomes the first country in the former Eastern European Bloc to introduce benefits for same-sex couples. The Unregistered Cohabitation Amendment to Civil Code gave all unmarried "common law" couples, including same-sex couples, limited rights and benefits which have to be applied for to the local government. Partnership legislation currently being discussed

1998.  The Netherlands introduces Geregistreerd Partnerschap (registered partnerships) for both heterosexuals and homosexuals, giving couples the same rights and responsibilities as for married couples.

1999.  France introduces a Pacte Civil de Solidarité or PaCS (civil contract)  that gives some rights to cohabitating couples of all sexualities.  Taxation, inheritance and adoption are not included in these rights.

2000.  Vermont becomes the first state in the USA to introduce legislation recognising same-sex couples.  Vermont Civil Unions give same-sex couples the same life insurance, health care and child custody benefits as married couples.

2000.  Belgium introduces Cohabitation Légale/Wettelijke Samenwoning/Gesetzliches Zusammenwohnen (Legal Cohabitation) for same sex couples giving them the same rights and responsibilities as for married couples.

2001.  In January in Canada, what is thought to be the world's first 'gay marriage' in a church took place in Toronto  (the MCC church in the city on January 14, Douglas in Toronto kindly tells us).  The ceremony was subsequently ruled "legal" by three Ontario Court of Appeal judges (2003).  Other Canadian provinces introduced same sex marriage until earlier this year when the Parliament brought-in same-sex marriage nationally, confirming judicial rulings in some, but not all, provinces.  A footnote to the Ontario Court of Appeal ... Canada's leading national newspaper, the Globe and Mail,  named the three jurists as "Nationbuilders of the Year" for their decision.

2001.  The Netherlands becomes the first country in the world to introduce full civil marriage for same sex couples.

2001.  Portugal introduces União de Facto / Economia Comum (Union of Fact/Common Economy) which extends to same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples living in a de facto union for more than two years.  Very limited rights.

2001.  Germany introduces Eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft (Registered Life Partnerships) for same-sex couples.  This includes the same inheritance and tenant rights as enjoyed by married couples.

2002.  Finland introduces Rekisteröity Parisuhde which is similar to Denmark to almost complete the Nordic countries recognition of same-sex couples in a partnership - the exception being the Faroe Islands (self-governing part of Denmark).

2003.  Belgium introduces full same-sex marriage.

2003.  In Canada, an Ontario court rules that same-sex marriages are legal (the 2001 wedding at the Toronto MCC church was now legal).  British Columbia and Québec embrace same-sex marriage.

2003.  In Croatia, a law comes into force for same-sex civil unions whereby partners who have been together for at least three years can enjoy the same benefits as unmarried cohabiting opposite sex couples which are limited.

2003.  In Buenos Aires, Argentina same sex partnerships were introduced.  While the 350 or so same-sex couple in the capital city have taken advantage and enjoy most of the rights enjoyed by married couples (it does not include the right to adopt or inheritance rights, as these are federal matters), the remainder of the country is without any recognition.  However, the Argentine Congress is currently going through the legislative process of implementing a new form of marriage aimed at same-sex partners, but will also be available to heterosexual couples.  When passed, it will apply to the entire country.

2003.  On the orders of the European Court of Human Rights, Austria gives cohabiting same-sex partners all the rights of unmarried cohabiting heterosexual partners (Karner v Austria)

2003.  The Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the USA ordered state authorities to issue marriage licences for same-sex couples – and in 2004 this became effective.  However, while same-sex marriages are legal, there are moves to ban them.

2004.  The city of Portland in Oregon (USA) began issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples.  But an amendment to the state constitution was passed by the electorate in a referendum.  The same happened in San Francisco, but this was short-lived following a court case.

2004.  Luxembourg introduces Loi Relative aux Effets Légaux de Certains Partenariats (Law Relating to the Legal Effects of Certain Partnerships) which is based on the French PaCS.

2004.  Brazil/Rio Grande do Sul - Civil union (see below)

2004.  Tasmania in Australia introduces registered relationship or civil unions for all, regardless of sexuality, but with strict residency conditions. Tasmania's Relationships Act gives same-sex relationships equal status to heterosexual marriages under nearly all state laws, and covers areas such as property transfers and superannuation.

2004.  Switzerland introduces Eingetragene Partnerschaft/Partenariat Enregistré/Unione Domestica Registrata (registered partnerships) which give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples in terms of pension, insurance and taxation. Adoption by same-sex couples is specifically not included.

2004.  The United Kingdom Parliament passes legislation for “Civil Partnerships” which closely mirrors the Civil Marriage Act, but does not allow religion to form part of any ceremony. Civil Partnerships are virtually same-sex marriage in all but name and the legislative process was perhaps one of the least provocative anywhere, probably because the word "marriage" was not used.  Under a different law, adoption by same-sex couples is permitted (adoption by gay men or women as individuals has always been permitted, but law was amended so that both people in a civil partnership can jointly adopt).

2004.  New Zealand Parliament passes an act that permits Civil Unions between same-sex couples.

2005 (March).  Andorra introduces Unió Estable de Parella (stable union of [a] couple).  This is open to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Proof of a stable relationship is required to register with the 'Registry of Stable Unions'.  Registered couples have most - but not all - of the rights enjoyed by married couples. 

2005 (April).  New Zealand civil union law comes into force.

2005 (April).  Connecticut becomes the second state in the USA to permit same-sex civil unions, despite the state constitution specifically defining “marriage” as being between a man and a woman.

2005 (June).  Spain passes legislation permitting same-sex marriage, with couples able to adopt.  The legislation was enacted within weeks.

2005 (June).  Slovenia introduces Zakon o Registraciji Istospolne Partnerske Skupnosti or ZRIPS (Law on the registration of same-sex unions/partnerships) for "Registered Same-Sex Partnerships".  Very limited rights around property, the obligation to support the weaker partner and partial inheritance rights.  Not included are next-of-kin or social security rights.

2005 (June).  Canada introduces legislation that includes same-sex couples in marriage (and it applies throughout the country) following a bitter debate in Parliament which came close to bringing down the government.  Some provinces had already introduced same-sex marriage, with the United Church of Canada, the MCC and Unitarian churches offering ceremonies. Adoption by same-sex couples is permitted.  Where Canada arguably has the best legislation in the world is in the fact that anyone can get married in Canada, regardless of nationality or country of residence. However, there is no right of a Canadian citizen to bring a spouse into the country if he or she married outside of Canada.  See also 2001 for Canada's (and probably the world's) first same-sex marriage in a church) and 2003 for first "legal" recognition..

2005 (November).  Australian Capitol Territory (Canberra) in Australia approves civil unions for same-sex couples.  But unlike the legislation in Tasmania, there is no residency requirement.  The Federal Government  blocked the Civil Unions Act six months later on the grounds it contravened the Commonwealth Marriage Act.

2005 (December).  The Australian Defence Force (military) introduced for same-sex couples the same benefits as heterosexual partners in areas like housing and education assistance, and relocation.  The areas of inequality that remain unaddressed are superannuation and Veterans Affairs (compensation upon death or injury)

2005 (December).  Belgium introduces legislation that allows same-sex couple to adopt children. 

2005 (December).  High Court in South Africa rules that preventing same-sex couples from getting married was unconstitutional – and gives the government 12 months to bring into effect the necessary legislation.  National Assembly passed the Civil Union Bill on November 14, 2006.

2005 (December).  UK Civil Partnership Act 2004 becomes law.  Same sex couples are permitted to give “notice of intention” of registering civil partnerships from December 5.  First civil partnership registrations/ceremonies in the UK are on December 19 in Northern Ireland, with Scotland following the next day, and England and Wales on December 21.  However, in the Western Isles region of Scotland, registrars are refusing to perform civil partnership registrations on moral grounds - and the council is backing the registrars

2005 (December).  Latvia becomes the first country in Europe and the European Union to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.  The Constitutional Amendment passed its Parliamentary process on December 15 and now goes to the President for final approval.

2005 (December). Czech Republic Partnership Bill passed by Chamber of Deputies on December 16.  The Bill now has to go before the Senate by mid-January 2006.  If it fails at the Senate, it returns to the Deputies and then, after further approval, it can go directly to the President for signing.

2006 (January).  Czech Republic Partnership Bill passed by the Senate (January 26) with a 45-14 majority (six Senators abstained).  BUT ... President Vaclav Klaus has indicated (January 29, 2006) he will not sign the Bill into law.

2006 (February).  Czech Republic Partnership Bill vetoed by President Vaclav Klaus (February 16)

2006 (March).  Czech Republic Partnership Bill saved by the Chamber of Deputies in Parliament when President's veto was set aside, with 101 of the 171 deputies present voting in favour (March 15). To overturn a presidential decision, the Chamber of Deputies has to record an absolute majority of its 200 elected members - so the reversal was 'won' by one vote - the absolute minimum. 

2006 (July).  Slovenia's Zakon o Registraciji Istospolne Partnerske Skupnosti or ZRIPS (Law on the registration of same-sex unions/partnerships) came into effect.  Severe restrictions include no one, including family, can attend the registration.  Very limited rights around property, the obligation to support the weaker partner and partial inheritance rights.  Not included are next-of-kin or social security rights.

2006 (October). In the United States, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that "the State must provide to committed same-sex couples, on equal terms, the full rights and benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples".  The court ordered politicians to either amend the existing marriage laws to include same-sex couples or to introduce same-sex "civil unions" within 180 days.

2006 (November).  In South Africa, the National Assembly passed the Civil Unions Bill by a more than convincing 230-41 margin on November 14.  The Bill now has to be approved by the National Council of Provinces before it can be signed into law by President Thabo Mbeki.  The deadline set by the Constitutional Court for introduction is Thursday November 30, 2006.

2006 (November).  In Mexico City, a local law was passed recognising same-sex civil unions. The legislation was published in the 'Official Gazette' on November 16 after being signed by the Mayor of Mexico City three days previously.  The law comes into effect in February 2007 - and does not apply throughout Mexico.

2006 (November).  In South Africa, the Civil Unions Bill passed National Council of Provinces on November 28 to complete its legislative process.  The voting margin was 34-11 (with one abstention).  The Bill was signed into law by Acting President Phumzile Mlamblo-Ngcuka and is now an Act - and has immediate effect.

2006  (December).  Australian Capitol Territory (Canberra) in Australia tables a revised bill to legally recognise same-sex relationships (see November 2005 above).

2006 (December).  The New Jersey Assembly on December 14 voted 56-19 to introduce Civil Unions, which would give same-sex couple all the rights of a married couple. Later in the day, the State Senate approved 23-12.  Gov. Jon Corzine signed the legislation on December 21 and Civil Unions for same-sex couples becomes law on February 19, 2007.  It will give all the rights and responsibilites of marriage, but not the title.

2007 (January).  In Switzerland, the federal Partnership Law came into effect on January 1.  Eingetragene Partnerschaft/Partenariat Enregistré/Unione Domestica Registrata gives pension, inheritance and tax rights and obligations to same-sex couples who register their parnerships..

2007 (January).  Norway introduced a law (January 1) that will allow The Norwegian Humanist Association to perform "marriages" between same-sex couples.  The Humansists have been conducting legal marriages of heterosexuals couples since December 2004, providing that one of the partners was a Humanist member (there have been more than 1,000 such ceremonies).  The new law removes the membership requirement - and is expanded to include same-sex couples whose commitment will be legally recognised as a Registrert Partnerskap.

2007 (January).  Mexico.  The northern state of Coahuila introduced “Civil Solidarity Union” (same sex unions).  The law was passed on January 11 and Coahuila was the second area of Mexico to introduce such legislation (Mexico City was the first - see November 2006).  In February, Coahuila amended its law to allow same-sex couple throughout Mexico to register their unions in the State.

2007 (February).  Italy.    In a special Cabinet meeting on February 8, the Italian government approved a 'same sex union' measure similar to that in France.  The new legislation, which has to be passed by Parliament, will recognise relations between gays as well as unmarried heterosexual couples and others who choose to live together, granting rights in areas like inheritance and health care.

2007 (May).  Oregon (USA).  Governor Ted Kulongoski signed House Bill 2007 - Oregon Family Fairness Act on May 9.  This Bill introduces domestic partnerships for same-sex couples and is effective from January 1, 2008.

2007 (December).  Hungary's Parliament approved same-sex partnerships.  From January 2009, same-sex couples may register their civil partnership and have the same rights as married heterosexual couples in inheritance, taxation and other financial matters.  Constitutional Court overturned the legislation - see 2008 (December)

2007 (December).  In Uruguay, the Senate unanimously approved legislation to introduce Civil Unions for both same-sex couples and heterosexuals.  Couples will be eligible to form civil unions after living together for five years. They will have rights similar to those granted to married couples on such matters as inheritance, pensions and child custody.  President President Tabare Vazquez signed the legislation on December 28.  The law is effective from January 2008.

2008 (April).  The first "gay marriage" in Latin America took place in an Uruguay courthouse when Adrian Figuera and Juan Carlos Moretti exchanged vows in front of judge Estrella Perez.

2008 (May).  California looks to becoming the second state in the USA to recognise gay marriage following a 4-3 decision by the State Supreme Court ruling on May 15 that it is unconstitutional to deny same sex couples the right to marry.  First same-sex marriages could take place in mid-June, if there is no further court challenge.  Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said that he accepted the ruling of the court.

2008 (June).  In USA, the first same-sex civil marriages in California took place just after 5pm (local time) on Monday June 16 in a handful of counties.  However, most counties started issuing licences on June 17.  Massachusetts already has same-sex marriages, but there are residency qualifications.  In California there are no restrictions.  

2008 (June).  Legislation was passed in Norway that gives same-sex couples the legal right to marry.  The upper house of the Norwegian parliament passed the legislation by a 23-17 majority on June 17. The lower house of the Norwegian parliament (Odelstinget) passed the law on June 11, 2008 by a vote of 84 - 41. Since 1993, same-sex couples have been able to enter into Civil Unions (see above).  The new law, which includes adoption and artificial insemination,  will come into effect on January 1, 2009.

2008 (August).  In USA, the The Coquille Nation in Oregon adopted a law that recognising same-sex marriage, despite an amendment to the state constitution in 2004 that defined marriage as being a man and a woman.  Some say the the US federal government will have to recognise these marriages as the Coquille Nation is itself federally recognised as a Native American "tribe".  Others say that the Federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 takes precedence over any federal native American laws.  The lawyers could well be having a "field day". The first Coquille Nation same-sex marriage is expected early next year.

2008 (September).  The new constitution approved on September 28 in Ecuador opens the way to legal recognition of same-sex couples.  The new constitution says that all monogamous same-sex couples living together shall have the same rights as married heterosexuals.  But the constitution says that marriage itself must remain for heterosexual couples.

2008 (October). In Connecticut, USA, the state's top court ruled that civil marriage should be available to same-sex couples.  These civil marriages should become available in November.

2008 (November).  The electorate in California, USA, voted in favour of 'Proposition 8', which writes into the state's constitution that marriage is defined as between a man and a woman only.  Same-sex marriages ceased on November 5 throughout the state.  Until the legal tangle is worked out, it is not clear the status of those same-sex couples who were married between June 16 and November 4.

2008 (November).  The first same-sex civil marriages were registered in Connecticut on November 12.

2008  (December).  The Hungarian Constitutional Court ruled on December 15 that it had annulled the law, passed by Parliament in December 2007, that would give rights to domestic partners because it would diminish the importance of marriage.  The court says the new legislation was unconstitutional as it would give unmarried heterosexual couples practically the same rights as married ones, "downgrading" the institution of marriage.  But the court says, in its decision announced Monday, that a law allowing domestic partnerships for gay couples would not be unconstitutional — as long as it applied only to them and not to heterosexual couples.  Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsny immediately instructed the Minister of Justice and Law Enforcement to prepare a new bill on registered partnership taking into account the opinion of the Court.

2009 (January).  Sweden. A Bill was presented to the Riksdad (Parliament) that will make marriage available to same-sex couples.  Three of the political parties in the four-party governing coalition have tabled a motion that is expected to pave the way for gay marriage in Sweden from May 1 this year. The country has recognised same-sex couples with Registrerat Partnerskap since 1994.  Most, but not all, rights enjoyed in civil marriage are features in Registrerat Partnerskaps.

2009 (January). Colombia.  Following a court ruling, civil unions are to be introduced.  There are no details yet as to what rights same-sex couples will have, but it is expected that the country will have the "strongest" rights for same-sex couples in South America.

2009 (April).  Sweden. On April 1, the Swedish legislature passed its "gender neutral" marriage bill by a 261 - 22 margin.  Marriage will be available to same-sex couple from May 1, 2009.

2009 (April). USA. The Supreme Court of the State of Iowa ruled on April 3 that same sex couples had the right to marry. “The Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution,” the justices said in a summary of their decision.  Same-sex marriages will begin on April 27.

2009 (April). USA.  The State of Vermont, which was the first to legally recognise any form of same-sex relationships when it introduced Civil Unions in 2000, became the first State to legislate to include same-sex couples in their marriage laws.  Following a veto on the Bill by the Governor, both the legislature's House and Senate voted on April 7 to over-ride the Governor's veto - in the case of the House the vote was 100-49, just enough to reach the required two-thirds majority.  The new legislation will become law on September 1, 2009, when no more Civil Unions will be registered.  Those who have registered a Civil Union will continue to to have them recognised, but may "convert" them to marriage.

2009 (April). USA.  The State of Washington Legislature voted 62-35 on April 15 to introduce an "everything but marriage" bill that grants same-sex couples all the rights and benefits the state offers married couples.  The bill now goes to Governor Chris Gregoire, who is expected to sign it into law.

2009 (April). Hungary. The Hungarian Parliament passed the same-sex partnership bill on April 20 by a 199-159 (with eight abstentions) margin.  The bill, which does not give same-sex couple the right to adopt children, is expected to come into force in July.

2009 (May) USA.  The Governor of Maine signed the Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom on May 6.  The law will become effective 90 days after the adjournment of the legislative session which is expected around the end of June.  However, plans are on hold as a petition to hold a referendum on the matter got the required number of signatories and it goes to public vote in November.

2009 (June).  USA.  New Hampshire became the sixth state to legalise gay marriage after the Senate and House passed key language on religious rights and Gov. John Lynch — who personally opposes gay marriage — signed the legislation on June 3.  The new law will come into force on January 1, 2010, the second anniversary of the introduction in New Hampshire of Civil Unions.

2009 (June).  The French overseas territory of New Caledonia in the Pacific finally approved the PaCS (Pacte Civil de Solidarité) law, ten years after it was first introduced in France.  Same sex couples were able to register their 'pacte' from the first week of the month.

2009 (November).  USA. Voters in Maine overturned the decision of the State Senate, House and Governor to introduce gay marriage.

2009 (November). Australia's first legal civil partnership was registered in Canberra (Australian Capital Territory) on November 25.  Warren McGaw and Chris Rumble, who have been together for almost 20 years were the first couple to register.  ACT is the only place in Australia to have any form of legal partnership recognition for same-sex couples.

2009 (December).  The Austrian Parliament passed, by a 110-64 margin, legislation on December 10  allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions.  It is expected to become law on January 1, 2010.  While civil unions will give many rights enjoyed by married couples, the legislation does not give the right to  adoption or artificial insemination.

2009 (December).  In the USA, the Washington DC City Council approved 11-2 the introduction of gay marriage, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed the Bill on December 18.  By law, the US Congress has to review the Bill within "30 legislative days".

2009 (December).  Mexico. A measure to legalise same-sex marriage was passed 39-20 by the Mexico City Assembly. The change, Associated Press reported, would allow same-sex couples to adopt children, apply for bank loans together, inherit wealth and be included in the insurance policies of their spouse, rights they were denied under civil unions allowed in the city.  The Mayor is likely to sign the measure, applicable only in Mexico City. into law.

2009 (Decenber). In Argentina, the constitution is silent on whether marriage must be between a man and a woman, effectively leaving the matter to state and city officials, the Associated Press Reported when Jose Maria Di Bello and Alex Freyre were married in front of state and federal officials in Ushauaia, the state capital  ofTierra del Fuego on December 28. Same sex partnerships have been legal since 2002 in Buenos Aires.

2010 (January).  USA. In New Hampshire, same-sex civil marriage became law on January 1 when couples who had already registered civil unions could exchange vows for the second time.

2010 (February).  Portugal.  Parliament approved the final wording of a gay civil marriage Bill on February 24. The Bill now goes to the President Silva, a Catholic who has said he opposes the legislation.  He has eight days to approve the Bill and pass it on to the Constitutional Court, or 20 days to veto it. The Government has vowed to over-ride any Presidential veto.

2010 (March). USA. Same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia (Washington) become legal on March 3, the first date that a same-sex couple can apply for a marriage license.  With the three clear business days "waiting period", the first ceremonies are due to be held on March 9.

2010 (March).  In Mexico, same sex marriage became legal on March 4 in Mexico City only.  The legislation also includes provision for married same-sex couples to adopt.

2010 (May).   President Silva of Portugal signed the same-sex marriage Bill on May 17 (International Day Against Homophobia).  The Act was published in the Diário da Republica on May 31, with the first ceremony taking place on June 7 when Teresa Pires and Helena Paixão became the first same-sex couple to marry in the country.

2010 (June). The Althingi (Parliament) in Iceland voted unanimously (49-0) to amend the wording of the civil marriage law so that marriage is the legal union of two individuals and not only of a man and a woman  and at the same time struck down the registered partnership law.  The Bill now goes to the President Olafur Grimsson to sign into law.  This is seen as a formality as the Icelandic President has only twice sent a bill to public referendum in the 56-year history of the Republic of Iceland. The Bill has to be sent to the President within two weeks of being passed by the Althingi.  The legislation specifically states that ministers of religion will "be free to perform [same-sex] marriage ceremonies, but never obliged to".

2010 (June). In Iceland, the new 'gay marriage law' came into effect on June 27.  Among the first to take advantage was Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir and her partner writer Jonina Leosdottir.  In 2002 the couple had registered a civil union, which have now been 'struck down' under the new civil marriage law.

2010 (July). In Ireland, the Civil Partnership Bill passed all stages in the
Dáil without a formal vote on July 1, easily clearing its first hurdle. It is expected to be law by autumn.

2010 (July).  Following a marathon debate, the Senate passed a Bill legalising same-sex marriage in Argentina.  President Cristina Fernandez signed the Bill into law on July 21 making Argentina the first country in Latin America to recognise same-sex marriage throughout the country.

2010 (December).  Both houses of the legislature in Illinois approved legislation allowing civil unions in the State - the House approved the measure on November 30, with the Senate approving December 1.  Governor Pat Quinn has said he will sign the bill early in 2011, with the first civil unions, also available to heterosexual couples, on June 1, 2011.

2010 (December). Application for Civil Partnerships in Ireland will be able to be made from January 1, the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern TD, announced on December 23.  Couples must give three months notice to the Civil Registrar before having a civil partnership ceremony. So the first ceremonies will be in April (as in the case for civil marriage, at least three months notice is required by law).  However, couples who have a wide range of foreign same-sex civil marriages and same-sex civil partnerships will automatically have their legal marriage/partnership recognised in Ireland from January 3. On April 5 in Dublin, Barry Dignam and Hugh Walsh became the first same-sex couple to have a civil partnership.

2011 (March). In the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein (population 35,000), the Landag (parliament) finally approved legislation for the introduction of Registered Partnerships, similar to the arrangements in Switzerland.  The process started in 2007.  Registered Partnerships should come into effect from September 1, 2011.  But a group is petitioning to have a referendum, and have until mid-April to collect the 1,000 signatures required under the constitution. The required number of petitioners was reached and the referendum is to be held, probably in June.

2011 (April).  In the USA, the Delaware legislature approved Civil Unions for same sex couples who would enjoy all of the rights and benefits of marriage under state law.

2011 (May).  On May 5, the Supreme Court in Brazil ruled 10-0 that same-sex partnerships must be legally recognisedThe decision grants gay couples most of the rights enjoyed by heterosexual partners, including pension benefits, inheritance and, some lawyers say, possibly the right to adopt children.

2011 (June).  In Illinois (USA), Civil Unions became legal on June 1 when licences were issued.  Civil Unions are available to both same-sex and 'straight' couples. The first ceremonies were on June 2.

2011 (June).  In the Principality of Liechtenstein, 68.8 percent of voters approved the law for in introduction of Registered Partnerships in a binding referendum  In March, the Landag (parliament) approved the measure.

2011 (June).  On June 24 in the United States, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Marriage Equality Act which legalises gay marriage minutes after the Senate voted 33-29 to pass the legislation.  The Bill comes into effect on July 24, 2011.

2011 (July).  Civil Unions for same-sex couples in Rhode Island (USA) was signed into law by Governor Lincoln Chaffe on July 2 after being passed 21-16 by the State Senate earlier in the week.

2011 (August):  In Scotland, the SNP, which has an overall majority in Parliament, said it would be seeking to introduce same-sex marriage.  There would be public consultation in the coming months, the SNP said. Marriage laws are one of the many aspects that have been 'devolved' by the British Parliament to Scotland.

2011 (September).  Full 'marriage equality' in England and Wales came a stage closer when the British Government announced that early next year they would be undertaking "consultation" prior to introducing legislation.  Prime Minister David Cameron was reported to want same-sex civil marriage in place by the end of the current Parliament in 2015.

2011 (September). In Australia, the Tasmanian State Parliament voted on September 26 in favour of same-sex marriage, the first in the country to do so. State parliaments, however, have no control over marriage laws which are a federal matter, but it sends a message to Canberra.


■  NOTES

Brazil.  It is difficult to fit this country into a "timeline" as there is no specific national legislation for same-sex unions.  However same-sex couples do have many rights that come as a result of anti-discrimination laws, and via the courts.

Brazilian law gives same-sex couples the right to inherit their partner's pension and social security benefits.  Providing they can establish with the National Social Security Institute they are in a "stable union", they will be treated no differently from a married couple on retirement or death.  The policy also allows people in same-sex relationships to declare their partners as dependents on  income tax returns. All this is as a result of a court ruling and is not enshrined in specific law.

The state of Rio Grande do Sul has a "civil union registry" as a result of a court decision in March 2004.  Same-sex couples in committed relationships are able to register at any notary public office. Although it does not affect federal rights, it gives same-sex couples more equality in many areas. Same-sex couples who register have the right to jointly own property, establish custody of children, and claim the right to pensions and property when one partner dies. 

USA.  Another complex country, in this case as a result of having 50 states, all with differing laws.  Many states have implemented some degree of equality, especially in the workplace/pensions/health fields with domestic partner benefits.  The majority of states have implemented constitutional amendments or laws defining "marriage" as being between a man and a woman, thus preventing in introduction of "same-sex marriage".  As noted above, Connecticut has this definition, but this year introduced a form of civil partnership for same sex couples.  Massachusetts introduced same-sex marriage on the order of the state's Supreme Judicial Court in 2004.  There are moves to bring into effect either a redefinition to a "partnership" or bring in a law/amendment that would in effect reverse the court decision.  Vermont was the first state to introduce same-sex partnerships/unions (2000).  On October 25, 2006, the Supreme Court in New Jersey ruled that politicians must either amend the State's existing marriage laws to include same-sex couples or to introduce 'Civil Unions' - within 180 days. On December 14, the Civil Union measure passed the State Assembly and Senate with  substantial majorities. Gov. Jon Corzine signed the legislation on December 21, 2006 and the law will be effective from February 19.  In Oregon, Governor Ted Kulongoski signed the State's "Domestic Partnership" legislation (House Bill 2007 - Oregon Family Fairness Act) on May 9, 2007.  It become effective on January 1, 2008.  The New Hampshire legislature has approved Civil Unions, and the measure is awaiting the signature of Gov. John Lynch - he has said he will sign it. Two years later, the legislature approved 'marriage equality' and same-sex couples were able to have a civil marriage from January 1, 2010 - the first State to introduce same-sex marriage via legislation. California introduced same-sex civil marriage on June 16, 2008, following a ruling from the state's supreme court.  But it was short-lived as less than five months later, on November 4, Californians narrowly approved 'Proposition 8' which would later the constitution of the state to define marriage (including civil marriage) as between a man and a woman only. Although not a state, but rather a 'district' that comes under the 'eye' of the US Congress, the District of Columbia introduced same-sex marriage on March 3, 2010.  In Delaware, both the state Senate and the House of Representatives approved the introduction of Civil Unions in April 2011.  Civil Unions will provide same-sex couples with all of the rights and benefits of marriage under state law. June 1, 2011, saw Civil Unions, available to both same-sex and 'straight' couples became legal.

States and Districts that offer same-sex marriage: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia.

States that have other names ("unions" etc) for their legal recognition of committed same-sex couples:  New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington.

States offering same-sex couples legal recognition, but with limited rights: Hawaii, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, and Rhode Island.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task force has an "Anti Gay-Marriage Measures in the USA" map which shows states that is correct to November 15, 2005.

See also the Freedom to Marry website for information on USA.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thanks especially to ILGA-Europe for their assistance in compiling this listing.  This listing will be kept up to date as other countries bring in legislation.  Please let us know of any developments - as well as any errors or omissions above.

Also thanks to Geoffrey Williams of Australia's The Pink Broad for input on the situation "Down Under" - and in Brazil.

From Toronto, Douglas and Jim have spotted errors in our Canadian entries and provided additional information - corrections and additions have been made and Argentina was added thanks to "Yvon".

Kurt of the Homosexuelle Initiative (HOSI) in Wien (Vienna) provided invaluable information and clarification on Europe.

This list can be freely used, either with or without attribution.

FURTHER READING

ILGA-Europe website

Homosexuelle Initiative (HOSI) website - in German.  The site contains an overview of Europe (German)

Equal: New Defence PolicyThe Pink Broad on the Australian Defence Force regulations that came into effect on December 1 and gives military personnel in a same-sex relationship some of the rights enjoyed by heterosexual serving members.  Also,
Gay Veterans: The Fight for Equality looks at the continuing inequality for ADF retired personnel.

Argentina: The 'Final Battle' for Gay and Lesbian Rights, by Marcela Valente (IPS News Service, Italy)
 

 

 

 

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Originally posted: 5 December 2005 at 20:30 (UK time)  Last updated: 21 September 2011